Hyperactive and anxiolytic-like behaviors result from loss of COUP-TFI/Nr2f1 in the mouse cortex.

Genes Brain Behav. 2019 Jan 17:e12556. doi: 10.1111/gbb.12556. [Epub ahead of print]

Contesse T1,2, Ayrault M2, Mantegazza M2, Studer M1, Deschaux O1.

Author information

1 iBV – Institute of Biology Valrose, Université Côte d’Azur (UCA), CNRS, Inserm, Nice, France.
2 IPMC – Institute of Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology, Université Côte d’Azur (UCA), CNRS, Valbonne, France.


The nuclear receptor COUP TFI (also known as Nr2f1) plays major roles in specifying distinct neuronal subtypes during patterning of the neocortical motor and somatosensory cortex, as well as in regulating the longitudinal growth of the hippocampus during development. In humans, mutations in the NR2F1 gene lead to a global developmental delay and intellectual disabilities. While more than 30% of patients show behavioral features of autism spectrum disorder, 16% of haploinsufficient children show signs of hyperactivity and impulsivity. Loss of COUP-TFI in the cortical mouse primordium results in altered area organization and serotonin distribution, abnormal coordination of voluntary movements and learning and memory deficits. Here, we asked whether absence of COUP-TFI affects locomotor activity, anxiety, as well as depression. Mice mutant for COUP-TFI have normal motor coordination, but significant traits of hyperactivity, which does not seem to respond to N-Methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) antagonists. However, no changes in anxiety, despite increased locomotor performances, were observed in the open field task. On the contrary, elevated plus maze and dark-light test explorations indicate a decreased anxiety-like behavior in COUP-TFI mutant mice. Finally, significantly reduced immobility in the forced swim test and no changes in anhedonia in the sucrose preference task suggest no particular depressive behaviors in mutant mice. Taken together, our study shows that loss of COUP-TFI leads to increased locomotor activity but less anxiety and contributes in further deciphering the pathophysiology of patients haploinsufficient for NR2F1.

PMID: 30653836
DOI: 10.1111/gbb.12556